By Andrew Barbuzzi-
With the NBA regular season coming to an end, the top eight teams in the Eastern Conference have made the playoffs with little competition. Unlike the NCAA men’s basketball tournament, the NBA playoffs are a lot easier to predict because of a best of seven game series rather than single game elimination.
Now that the spots are solidified in the Eastern Conference, everyone can try their best to predict the winning match-ups.
The Heat are playing ridiculous basketball, what would you expect from a team with about five future Hall of Famers? They play up- tempo basketball, play good defense, and shoot a deadly three ball. I anticipate the inexperienced Bucks and their tiny back court will have lots of trouble competing with the Heat.
I’ll say the Heat in 5 just because Jennings and Ellis have the potential to dictate the game with an exceptional shooting night, but in the end King James and the crew will be too much.
I think the Hawks are the worst 5- seed the Eastern Conference has seen in quite some time. Although they have a strong front court in Josh Smith and Al Horford, they have never flourished into the team they were expected to be.
Their weak back court will catch up to them, especially against the Nets strong guards in Deron Williams and Joe Johnson.
Even though I’m not completely on-board with the Nets, who are seemingly a top two team on paper, I expect they take the Hawks down with relative ease. I pick the Nets in 6.
If you took the best player off of a team for the entire season, they would probably struggle throughout the year, and riddle themselves in self-pity, call it a year, and wait for the player to return. You would expect the team to struggle, and the playoffs would be out of the question.
Somebody forgot to tell that to the Bulls as they have lost former MVP Derrick Rose, and battled numerous injuries all year. I think it’s evident that Rose won’t return until next season, and his fear of re-injuring his ACL in which he injured in last year’s playoffs.
The Pacers on the other hand are playing extremely well, their size with David West and Roy Hibbert gives them a chance to beat any team. Paul George is the X-factor for the Pacers, and he will match up well with Chicago’s Luol Deng on both sides of the court. Assuming D-Rose doesn’t end up coming back, and playing like the D-Rose of old, I have the Pacers in 6.
This is the most intriguing match-up of the first round as the experienced, yet injured Celtics take on the sharp shooting Knicks.
No doubt the Knicks are playing tremendous basketball of late, as the Celtics are falling. Carmelo Anthony has the opportunity to win the scoring title for the first time in his career, along with J.R. Smith having a breakout season.
The Knicks also have height in the front court with Amar’e Stoudemire and Tyson Chandler and a bench that can shoot lights out. If the Celtics were completely healthy, they would be a favorite due to their experience and depth, however I think they have met their match with the explosive Knicks. Look for an extremely hard fought series out of the Celtics, but I have the Knicks in 7.